How to Install Pop-up Sprinklers

If you want a great retic sprinkler system, (and a green lawn and garden!), then one of the most important things you need to do is install your sprinklers correctly.

If you want a great retic sprinkler system, (and a green lawn and garden!), then one of the most important things you need to do is install your sprinklers correctly.

Normally this is where I see people’s eyes start to glaze over as I begin a deep dive into how we install pop-ups and all the benefits of the way we do it. The normal response is, just tell me how much it’s going to cost. The problem with this approach is not the fact that someone is asking how much ‘it’ will cost, but what the definition of ‘it’ is. So, let’s define ‘it’. I know my ‘it’ and other’s ‘it’ may be very different. 

Many people assume that all sprinkler setups are the same – the work quality, installation methods, and materials. When in fact there are significant differences. Reticulation is like anything else in life, there is a spectrum. The last thing you want or need is to be constantly redoing your reticulation, to be having your lawn and garden suffer, and to be knocking the tops of pop-up sprinklers off with your lawn mower. No, you want hassle-free retic, beautiful green lawns and gardens, and peace of mind that a good and proper job HAS been done. It’s that simple or it should be. From personal experience, however, I have found a large number of poorly installed reticulation systems. These crappy irrigation systems keep us in business but ARE terrible for the homeowner and are completely avoidable.

So we are going to focus on two things:

  1. Installation of pop-up sprinklers 
  2. Layout of sprinklers
How to Install Pop-up Sprinklers
Pop-up Sprinklers

Installation of pop-up sprinklers

1) Do a proper flow AND pressure test. Pressure is the force behind the water. This article is not about flow and pressure tests BUT trust me when I say it’s 100% ESSENTIAL. Most manufacturers have a performance chart on their sprinklers that will tell you how far each sprinkler will flow at what pressure and how many litres per minute they will use. Often sprinklers need a higher kPa to throw further. For instance, a Hunter 2000 MP Rotator throwing at 180 degrees uses 1.7L/min at 170kPa. However, to throw 6.4 metres (same sprinkler nozzle) it needs 3.8L/min at 380kPa! That’s double the flow and pressure!! We have seen so many landscapers set MP 2000s out at 6 metres to only have them throw 5 metres. This leaves a 1 metre shortfall where sprinklers do not overlap, halving the water in these areas. DO THE PRESSURE AND FLOW TEST! If in doubt, hire us to do it for you.

2) Pick the right sprinkler for the job. Do you need a pop-up sprinkler that can support a traditional head, or do you need a gear driven sprinkler suitable for a larger bore system? If you have 5 acres and a 5 horsepower bore pump then you will want to water effectively, a traditional 12 foot head is not going to cut it.

Pop-up Sprinklers
taller version of pop-up Sprinklers

3) Use a taller version of pop-up. We tend to like 100mm or 150mm as these are much taller pop-ups. A taller pop-up can be sunk lower in the ground and will still pop up nice and high reaching over your lawn. If you put the pop-ups too close to the surface, then lawnmowers, cars, or crazy flying magpies can damage them. Tall and sink. Short pop-ups are no good as they will have to be super close to the surface to cover the grass, which leaves them open to being damaged

4) Dig a big hole. Get the pipework and sprinkler nice and deep. Take your time and get it right. Trust me, IT is worth it. Don’t rush this.

Install Pop-up Sprinklers
How to Install Pop-up Sprinklers

5) Use an articulated riser. These act as suspension (kind of) and have some give in them. Basically, the sprinkler attaches to the articulated riser and the riser connects to the pipe by a series of elbows; the artic riser moves if anything heavy drives over the sprinklers, protecting both the sprinkler and the pipe work. 100% essential. Also, you can adjust the height and angle afterward! This is so handy on instals. If you need more info, here is a step by step video on what they are and how to install them (: Enjoy!

Here is an Instagram video on fixing the riser at the base of the sprinkler including the tool to use – 

6) Set your pop-up 25-30mm or roundabouts under the lawn. There is nothing worse than having a high pop-up. Take the time to lower it. A good brand should not get stuck even when buried.

Set your pop-up Sprinklers
Rotary Nozzle

7) Set the sprinklers out slightly from the edge, so that when you are edging, you will not be playing hide and seek and hitting sprinklers.

8) Backfill properly around the sprinklers and compact the dirt down firmly to stop the sprinkler from moving and the lawn from sinking underneath the sprinkler.

9) If you can, get some good lawn soil (this is especially important when installing sprinklers into existing lawns, putting good soil under where you have cut grass out helps the lawn recover faster. You can also lightly top dress the patches of lawn where you have had to cut out to install the sprinklers and any trenches. This really helps the lawn come back fast. (For best results, fertilise and wet soil at the same time.

Layout of Sprinklers

Ok, I am going to keep this really simple. MAKE SURE YOUR SPRINKLERS FULLY OVERLAP. That is one sprinkler throwing to another. This is very different from full coverage. Here, I have drawn up a basic mud map as an example of a sprinkler layout. See how this example of a 6 x 3 lawn area with a 45-degree side should have at least 7 sprinklers. The width determines the spacing. Remember, you can always turn down your run time with an efficient sprinkler system, but if the system has coverage issues, no amount of runtime will make the water reach where it is not going. Honestly, just put enough in and make sure they overlap. Remember to put sprinklers in all corners, even funny odd-shaped areas – this is often skipped and results in dry patches.

Here is also a handy guide on how many sprinklers can I fit on one station.

Installing Pop-up Sprinklers


How to Install Pop-up Sprinklers
  • Sink sprinklers under lawn height and off edges.
  • Use articulated risers as suspension.
  • Use a quality brand.
  • Put enough sprinklers in.
  • Put sprinklers in all corners. ALL, even funny little ones.

If you need reticulation installation in Perth, get in touch with us at Retic Renovation! Our professionals will make sure no spot in your garden is left unwatered. We also provide reticulation repairs to ensure your reticulation system runs at maximum efficiency and doesn’t waste any water. Enquire now through our website or email us at

Watch our difference for yourself!

We take enormous pride in the quality of our work.

Nothing rushed and no corners cut.

Take a look at our videos on YouTube and social media to get a feel for how we operate and the love that goes into every single one of our projects.



Do you need help with your reticulation? Enquire now!

Luke Porter | Install Sprinkler Heads

Luke Porter

The Director of Retic Renovation is passionate about beautiful healthy lawns and gardens.

I have over 17 years hands-on experience in both landscaping and reticulation service and I’m extremely competent in problem solving, repairs, installation, and product knowledge.